Linas Jeglelevičius for the BNN
It‘s a race that has coalesced many of Lithuania’s heavy-hitters, political wannabes and simply better-life seekers for the same goal – clinching the coveted seat at Parliament.
With the general election around the corner (on October 9, to be exact), the campaigning in Lithuania has become visibly more robust and, well, more annoying to most of Lithuanians who just do not expect ANY change for better afterwards.
«Statistical portrait» of the candidate
The variety of the candidates is mind-boggling, but if you were to take a closer look at the candidates’ lists, some similarities could be discerned.
Namely looking for them, Lithuanian election observers and statisticians have conjured up the «statistical portrait» of the «average» Seimas (Lithuanian Parliament) contestant: he or she is of 48,9 years of age, having declared real estate and pecuniary resources for an amount of 165,927 euros and with the record of Seimas bids in the past.
Interestingly, even some of the names of the candidates appear to be more common than others, according to VRK, Lithuania’s Central Electoral Commission. Vytautas and Kęstutis are the top two names, which genealogy in the history books dates back to the 13th and 14th centuries, when Vytautas and Kęstutis, the grand rulers of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, expanded the boundaries of the duchy immensely.
For the coveted 141 seats at the Parliament, 1416 individuals have locked their horns and the bulk of them, or 69 per cents, are men.
When it comes to representation, the disproportion in gender is particularly evident on the big-name parties’ lists – male candidates among the Social Democratic and Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD) (the latter is also known as Lithuania’s Conservatives) amount to a whopping 77 percent. Only the Electoral Action of Poles and Christian Family Union can boast of sizable representation of women on its electoral list on which they make up 52 per cents.
Although the Lithuanian Union of Peasants and Greens, the election’s dark sheep, promulgates tenets of equality and diversity, it, nevertheless, misrepresents women in the election most evidently, with the male and female candidates’ ratio being three against one.
When it comes to age, the average candidate, as mentioned, is 48,9 years. The oldest Seimas mandate seeker is on the list of the new Lithuanian general election entity «Anti-corruption Naglis Puteikis and Kristupas Krivickas Coalition.» Its candidate has reached 88 years recently.
Lithuania’s Peoples Party harbours another octogenarian, who is 80 reportedly.
Who said that old guns cannot fire?
Meanwhile, the youngest candidate has just gotten over 25, which is the Lithuanian Constitution’s determined age barrier of eligibility for general election.
Seven out of ten hold university degree
You obviously cannot expect morons and illiterates govern the state (well, that type of people do scramble to power occasionally though, you have to agree). So if education is the litmus paper for the intelligence and statesmanship, 72 per cent of the Seimas bidders hold university and college degrees; 2,6 per cent has pointed to having higher education diplomas, 1,3 percent of the candidates have some vocational training and 1,1 percent seeks Seimas seats with secondary education. Notably, nearly a quarter of the contestants have said nothing of their education.
It seems that the Conservative candidates are most educated in the army, followed by the Liberals and Social Democrats.
Although the importance of living in wedlock has waned over the recent couple dozen of years, 65 per cent of the contenders stated they are married. Single Seimas aspirants account for around 10 per cent and widows and widowers make up a mere 2 per cent on the electoral ballots. Nine per cent has described themselves as divorcees and a whopping 15 per cent has not said anything about the marital status.
Some names pop up more often
If you were to look through the names of the bidders, the most popular male names besides the aforementioned Vytautas and Kęstutis are these: Algirdas, Gintaras, Darius, Gediminas, Andrius, Antanas and Jonas. Meanwhile, among the women, contenders bearing name of Irena prevail, followed by Rasa, Jolanta, Aušra, Audronė, Dalia, Lina and Rita.
When filling out the Central Electoral Commission’s questionnaires, the candidates were supposed to reveal their law breaches. Out of 1416 candidates, 34, or 2,45 per cent, admitted of having previous conviction.
Most of wrongdoers, seven to be exact, are on the list of «Drąsos kelias», five are on the list of Order and Justice Party and four belongs to Lithuania’s Peoples Party.
Fifteen millionaires on electoral lists
When it comes to the size of wallet, Liberals’ candidates cozied up on top – their assets average 264, 146 euros. The runners-up on the wealthiest candidate list are the Peasant and Green Union’s (LVŽS) candidates, each of which average assets are estimated 205,787 euros and the Social Democratic contestants come third with the assets being worth 186,764 euros.
Interestingly, 15 millionaires vie for Seimas seats and the fattest cat is liberal Vidmantas Martikonis, who has declared assets for 19 million and 236 thousand euros. The runner-up is the leader of the LVŽS, Ramūnas Karbauskas, whose declared assets amount to 11 million and 531 thousand euros.
The third is Social Democrat Bronius Bradauskas with 7 million and 336 thousand euros in his possession.
Party list refreshment efforts
Asked opinion about the candidates, Linas Kojala, the head of Vilnius-based Eastern Europe Studies Centre, singled out refreshment of several parties’ electoral lists.
«In that regard, Lithuanian Conservatives, or TS-LKD, take most of the credit with the party’s refreshment being among the key tasks of the new leader, Gabrielius Landsbergis. Liberals count on young candidates as always. Social Democrats have also shuffled the list with many younger generation candidates making it to upper positions,» Kojala told BNN.
Speaking of the Peasants and Greens, he noted that the Union has put together especially a wide variety of candidates under the LVŽS flag.
«How it will play out for the party remains to be seen, however,» the analyst said.
More expectations from youth
Lauras Bielinis, a prolific analyst and associated professor at Kaunas Magnus University, also discerned the efforts of the electoral lists’ refreshment.
«Indeed, some parties, like the Conservatives, have hinged their entire programme on new winds to be blown by the young generation,» he suggested to BNN.